The most gorgeous cathedral service
(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of John")
"God is spirit, and His worshipers must
worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24
Note the utter uselessness of any religion
which only consists of formality. The Samaritan
woman, when awakened to spiritual concern,
started questions about the comparative
merits of the Samaritan and Jewish modes
of worshiping God.
Our Lord tells her that true and acceptable worship
depends not on the place in which it is offered, but
on the state of the worshiper's heart.
The principle contained in these sentences can
never be too strongly impressed on professing
Christians. We are all naturally inclined to make
religion a mere matter of outward forms and
ceremonies, and to attach an excessive importance
to our own particular manner of worshiping God.
We must beware of this spirit, and especially when
we first begin to think seriously about our souls.
The heart is the principal thing in all our approaches
to God. "The Lord looks on the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7)
The most gorgeous 'cathedral service' is offensive
in God's sight, if all is gone through coldly, heartlessly,
and without grace.
The feeblest gathering of three or four poor believers
in a lowly cottage to read the Bible and pray, is a more
acceptable sight to Him who searches the heart, than
the fullest congregation which is ever gathered in St.
Peter's at Rome.